Of about 14 000 people who are killed on South African roads annually, 5000 are pedestrians, runners and cyclists. And 3500 road deaths occur between dusk and dawn, when visibility is worst.
These Western Cape government statistics prompted Gabriella Strömhielm to found a business-cum-charity, See and Be Seen, which imports safety reflector wristbands to make pedestrians more visible on the road.
Where Strömhielm grew up in Sweden, pedestrians have to take care when using the roads because of limited daylight hours.
“I looked like a Christmas tree when I went out to play because I had safety reflectors all over me,” she said. “But it’s not a trend in South Africa to wear them.”
For each reflector bought at a shop or ordered by a company, one will be donated to people who can’t afford them. The idea is for commercial sales to support the business’s charity side.
“As they buy reflectors, they’re also donating reflectors to underprivileged people.”
Strömhielm said the incentive for businesses was a tax deduction, BEE points and a stylish safety slap-band with company branding.
Volvo trucks have already jumped on board, buying 2000 reflectors for staff, while Star for Life schools have ordered 20 000 for their pupils.
Once business gathers speed, Strömhielm hopes to visit schools around Cape Town to distribute reflectors and present road-safety workshops.
Ideally, Strömhielm said, pedestrians should wear one wristband on each arm and on their ankles.
The braking distance of a car from 80km/h to a stop is about 53 metres, but headlights only pick up a person in dark clothing 15 metres away. With a safety reflector, it is possible to see a person 180 metres away, according to See and Be Seen’s calculations.
The reflectors will retail at R20, which buys one reflector-and-brochure set for the customer and donates another set.
More details on the See and Be Seen website. - Cape Argus